DOT firms up pact with FAO, Grab PH to promote fresh local produce and farm tourism

Published June 17, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hanah Tabios 

The Philippines’ fresh local produce will now be more accessible to a greater number of Filipinos as the Department of Tourism (DOT) on Tuesday successfully sealed partnerships with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and with Grab Philippines to further improve the country’s farm tourism industry.

New Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo -Puyat (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“We stated our belief that farm tourism helps the promise of food sufficiency and additional income not only for our tourism stakeholders but our farmers and fisher folk. Harnessing properly our tourism could be an important pillar for employment, productivity, and ensured sustainable livelihood,” DOT Secretary Berna-Romulo Puyat said in a speech during the ceremonial signing of Memorandum of Understanding and Memorandum of Agreement with ad interim FAO Country Representative Xiangyun Yao and Grab Philippines President Brian Matthew Cu, respectively, which were both held online on Tuesday.

For the period of three years, the DOT and FAO will consolidate, develop and detail their cooperation and effectiveness in linking farm tourism to sustainable agriculture practices.

The agreement also covers providing technical support on capacity building, research and development, marketing and advocacy, and technological development to promote farm tourism development; and conduct of pilot activities in select farm tourism sites.

Puyat said the Philippines now has a growing number of farm tourism sites across the country.

“As of May 31st 2020, the DOT has accredited 222 farm tourism sites nationwide, a sharp increase of 27.58 percent over the last tally which stood at 174 sites,” she said, citing the Costales Nature Farms located at the foothills of Mt. Banahaw in Majayjay, Laguna, is one of the country’s best agri-tourism destinations.

FAO Country Representative Yao said the partnership with DOT will truly ignite the development and the recovery of the tourism and agriculture sectors which were both heavily devastated by the prevailing crisis.

The year-long partnership with ride-hailing company Grab, on the other hand, seeks to support DOT’s Philippine harvest initiative and soften the economic impact brought on by COVID-19 to the farmers and small, medium Enterprises (SMEs) by making fresh and processed local food products more accessible to the Filipinos.

Philippine Harvest was originally a trade and travel fair held at Central Square in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig which features various food products from local food and farm producers in the country. With the pandemic, the DOT launched its online leg just last April to boost its presence using the new platform.

With Grab, the DOT will develop visual digital content, including the list of participating Philippine Harvest establishments or merchants, which will be made available through the Grab app.

The agreement will also highlight the use of Grab or GrabExpress as a mode of accessing and delivering fresh farm produce in all of Philippine Harvest’s promotional campaigns.

Puyat said as the domestic tourism situation improves, the DOT is envisioning the development of an ecosystem wherein farmers and fisher folk across the country can sell their produce or daily catch to buyers from DOT accredited hotels, resorts or restaurants in hopes to promote a self-sustaining farm-to-table community.

Cu in his speech said: “What Grab will be providing is last mile delivery for the participating merchants in this program. Grab is the largest instant same day last mile delivery provider in Metro Manila and across different cities in the country. We hope that this network of logistics will be able to get fresh local produce to the doors of those who would purchase it.”